In an obvious swipe at Google’s Android platform, Nokia today announced that it will provide free maps and turn-by-turn navigation. Its Ovi Maps are available today for 10 phones; beginning in March, the company will pre-load the software on all of its GPS-enabled smartphones.
Nokia’s competition with Google is so pointed that the executive who made the announcement during this morning’s press conference actually made a comparison with Android’s navigation even before a journalist could ask it during the Q&A session. According to Nokia, Google’s solution is “bandwidth-hungry,” and forces users to wait while the maps constantly re-load. (Devil’s advocate: on fast phones, such as the Nexus One, this isn’t a problem.)
Meanwhile, Nokia is billing Ovi Maps as a “hybrid” solution, one in which maps can be preloaded, which would make for a faster user experience (this would also be good news for the carriers, as Nokia notes).
Ovi Maps will be available globally, in 180 countries and 46 languages. However, voice navigation (that is, spoken street names) will only be offered in 74 countries.
The 10 phones to which users can download Ovi Maps today include the Nokia N97 mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition, Nokia E52, Nokia E55, Nokia E72, Nokia 5230, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia 6730 classic, and Nokia X6.